“Difficult Route”: the sign going to the Mt. Pulag National Park Akiki Trail Visitors’ Center forewarns. The third (of four trails) I have tried, Akiki is indeed challenging compared to Ambangeg‘s easy trail and Tawangan’s lengthy trek.
The Akiki trail starts with a 5-minute stair climb from the drop-off point to the ranger station. As with all Pulag climbs, the DENR-CAR (through Pulag park superintendent Mering Albas +63 919 6315402 and Akiki ranger Heron +63 908 7578319) needs to be informed of any group’s entry into the Park. Payment of fees and securing of guides are arranged either at the DENR Office or at the Akiki visitors’ center. Both open at 7:00 AM. Because the group had an early start, the fees were settled at the Akiki visitors’ centre.
Php1,800.00 Akiki-Ambangeg guide for one to seven persons
100.00 per head in excess of seven persons
100.00 entrance fee
50.00 camping fee
50.00 green fee
Since the group is fond of modifying almost all its climb itineraries, the Akiki hike was no exemption. Instead of the usual 2-day climb up to the saddle campsite, the trail was finished in ten hours. This is the actual itinerary:
19:00 Depart Cubao via Victory Liner (Php450.00)
01:30 ETA Baguio; prepare stuff and eat breakfast
03:30 Load jeep
04:00 ETD Kabayan, Benguet
06:30 ETA DENR Office
08:00 ETA Akiki Ranger Station/Visitors’ Center; register and secure guides (Php100.00 entrance fee, Php50.00 camping fee and Php50.00 green fee)
09:00 Start trek
11:00 Eddet River Bridge; lunch
12:00 Resume trek
15:00 Marlboro Country
16:00 Mossy and montane forest
19:30 Saddle campsite
11:30 Trek to summit
11:45 ETA summit
12:00 Resume trek
13:00 Camp 2
14:00 Camp 1
15:00 Babadak Ranger Station; settle guide fees
16:00 ETD DENR Office
17:30 DENR Office; wash up
19:00 Depart DENR Office
21:00 ETA Baguio City
22:30 Depart for Metro Manila
Tha Akiki trail has steep slopes all the way to the end of the forest line and into the grassland area. The trek from the Visitors’ Center commences with a scenic view of the Benguet landscape all the way to Eddet River. After two hours, a long steel hanging bridge is crossed over the river and its mini-waterfalls.
The next leg of the trek continues through more of the “killer trail’s” steep slopes. Lined with pine trees, walking thrugh the forest is cool to the senses and rejuvenating. Three hours into the trek, an area called Marlboro Country is reached. Albeit not as grand and breathtaking as those in Batanes, at that vantage point, the view of the lush greenery and wide landscape is still spectacular.
After another hour of walking under the pine trees, the forest transforms and becomes enchanting with huge trees covered in thick green moss. The mood turns surreal and Twilight-like with hardly any sunlight piercing through the dense vegetation. Finally, in approximately three hours, the forest line is breached and the famed Pulag grasslands is finally reached.